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Rio Rita

Overview

MGM's Rio Rita is an in-name-only remake of the 1929 RKO Radio musical blockbuster, itself based on the long-running Ziegfeld Broadway extravaganza. Bud Abbott & Lou Costello take over from the original film's Burt Wheeler & Robert Woolsey as the comedy leads, while Kathryn Grayson in her first picture and John Carroll replace the 1929 version's Bebe Daniels and John Boles. The original plot about an elusive bandit chieftan called the Kinkajou has been jettisoned in favor of an updated melange involving ...
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Overview

MGM's Rio Rita is an in-name-only remake of the 1929 RKO Radio musical blockbuster, itself based on the long-running Ziegfeld Broadway extravaganza. Bud Abbott & Lou Costello take over from the original film's Burt Wheeler & Robert Woolsey as the comedy leads, while Kathryn Grayson in her first picture and John Carroll replace the 1929 version's Bebe Daniels and John Boles. The original plot about an elusive bandit chieftan called the Kinkajou has been jettisoned in favor of an updated melange involving radio broadcasts and Nazi saboteurs. Abbott and Costello are cast as Doc and Wishy, two pet-store employees stranded in Texas. Hoping to return to New York, our heroes stow away in the trunk of the car owned by radio star Ricardo Montera John Carroll, only to discover that Ricardo is on his way to his home town near the Hotel Vista del Rio, there to renew his acquaintance with childhood sweetheart Rita Winslow Kathryn Grayson. Unbeknownst to Rita, her ranch become the headquarters for a nest of German spies, headed by hotel manager Craindall Tom Conway, who've hidden their miniature shortwave radios in a crate of apples. Thanks to well-meaning Wishy, the message-receiving fruit is ingested by dogs and donkeys, leading to an unending stream of "talking animal" gags. Given jobs on the ranch, Wishy and Doc quickly run afoul of the Nazis, but Wishy saves the day with a bit of uncharacteristic quick thinking involving the local Texas Rangers. Only a few traces of the original Rio Rita remain, including two songs and the classic Wheeler - Woolsey "drunk" routine. The new songs by Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg are pleasant if unmemorable, attractively performed by Kathryn Grayson and John Carroll. When all is said and done, the film's greatest strength is Abbott & Costello, making the first of three visits to MGM. Highlights include such verbal exchanges as "Pike's Peak" and "Bet you ten dollars you're not there," and a handful of well-crafted slapstick routines involving an auto turntable, a gigantic washing machine and an elusive time bomb.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Aside from a couple of songs, there's little similarity between this Rio Rita and the earlier film or stage show. That will be of little concern except for musical theatre aficionados or fans of the earlier film version, neither of which is the target audience for this "remake," that audience being those who simply can't get enough of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Fans of the comedy team will find plenty here to entertain them, even if Rita is not one of their best vehicles. Director S. Sylvan Simon can't find the right tone, the right air of inescapable madness that shows Abbott & Costello off to their very best, and MGM is a trifle too stuffy, even when it lets its hair down, for these two. Still, there are a number of episodes that do come off very well, such as Costello's adventure with (and in) the washing machine. The plot concocted for the film keeps getting in way, and the supporting characters are given a bit too much screen time; but at least those players include Tom Conway, in fine form, and Kathryn Grayson, in fine voice. Not a classic, but fans could definitely do worse. (Non-fans should just stay away, as usual.)
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/16/2011
  • UPC: 883316329443
  • Original Release: 1942
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Remastered
  • Time: 1:31:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 36,951

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bud Abbott "Doc"
Lou Costello "Wishy"
Kathryn Grayson Rita Winslow
John Carroll Ricardo Montera
Patricia Dane Lucette Brunswick
Tom Conway Maurice Craindall
Peter Whitney Jake
Barry Nelson Harry Gantley
Inez Cooper Pulque
Mitchell Lewis Julio
Frank Perry Chef
Eva Puig Marianna
Dick Rich Gus
Julian Rivero Mexican Gentleman
Arthur Space Trask
Joan Valerie Dotty
Douglass Newland Control Man
Lee Murray Little Mexican
Technical Credits
S. Sylvan Simon Director
Victor Baravalle Score Composer
Pandro S. Berman Producer
Richard Connell Screenwriter
George Folsey Cinematographer
John Grant Screenwriter
Robert Kalloch Costumes/Costume Designer
Gladys Lehman Screenwriter
Ben Lewis Editor
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Gile Steele Costumes/Costume Designer
Herbert Stothart Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
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